Site archaeologist Andrew Agha is presenting a paper at this year’s Historic Preservation Conference on how he has used technology at the Lord Ashley Site to help with preservation. The use of technology not only helps us further our research, but it can also help us focus our excavations to areas where we can better find data to answer our research questions. Archaeology is a destructive science and we only have one chance to collect our data properly. The use of geophysical technology, like magnetometer surveys, helped us determine areas where we would have a chance to study the moat feature. Focusing our efforts on areas where we have a better chance of answering our research questions helps ensure that we aren’t disturbing the site anymore than necessary, and we are able to maximize our efforts and research.
Technology was also used to help better identify and study the artifacts we recovered. Lipid analyses were conducted on the locally produced unglazed earthenwares, known as Colono Wares, to find chemical traces of the fatty acids, or lipids, from the foods these ceramics were used to cook, store, and eat. A scanning electron microscope was used to both find pollen and study the chemical signatures in the redwares. The identification of pollen helps us learn what types of plants were grown at Lord Ashley’s plantation. The study of the clays used to make the various redwares we found identified where they were made, thus helping us identify trade networks and the early economics of South Carolina. X-ray fluorescence, or XRF, was used on the glass beads we found to help us get a tighter date range for when they were made.
The use of technology helps us further advance our studies of the past. We have had great success with all of the studies we’ve done at the Lord Ashley Site so far and we are looking forward to what the next round of studies from the last field season will reveal!